Without doubt, the ‘Gulf’ decision to move the Yemeni talks from Sanaa to Riyadh was not made coincidentally. Riyadh is persistently continuing the confrontation reflected by its newspapers on a daily basis against what columnists call an ‘illegal coup’ in Sanaa.
Yemen’s outgoing President, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, in a letter sent to the Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz, after praising him at first, appealed to his brothers “in the GCC to continue their constructive role by holding a conference to be attended by all Yemeni political parties who wish to preserve the security and stability of Yemen, under the support of the Council, in Riyadh”.
As if it is a distribution of roles, the request of the outgoing President tuned to be Saudi royal instructions which were quickly welcomed by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) who announced that its secretariat will make all the necessary arrangements to hold a Yemeni dialogue conference in Riyadh; the capital which is accused by an outstanding group of Yemenis of fueling the crisis in their country.
What kind of dialogue would Riyadh host in light of its hard-line positions against the Ansarullah movement? Is it suitable for Riyadh to play such a role?
The Ansarullah (Supporters of Allah) movement, which is considered a hard number in the Yemeni political calculations, puts emphasis on its firm position i.e. refusing to participate in Riyadh’s “dialogue”. It is noteworthy that the Popular Forces Union Party, the General People’s Congress, the Baath Party, in addition to many of the components of the Revolutionary Committees, all line up to support the movement’s position.
Ansarullah’s spokesman Mohammad Abdul Salam explained, in an interview with Al-Manar website, that the movement’s position stems from its refusal to participate in any talks where the type, place, and time are not being specified by the Yemenis alone. He stressed that “the Yemenis are the only party to decide where the talks should take place, in order to be a truly national dialogue conference”.
On the other hand, the Saudi political analyst and commentator, Saad bin Omar, stressed to Al-Manar website that the “dialogue conference”, which is planned to be held in Riyadh, will take place under the auspices of the “GCC and not that of Saudi Kingdom. He underlined that Yemen’s outgoing president has asked to move talks to Riyadh, merely because of its symbolism as a capital chosen to be the headquarters of the GCC.
However, Ansarullah’s spokesman disagrees with this standpoint on the grounds “that Hadi is a part of the talks and not a legitimate president of the country, and thus none of the parties are entitled to impose a new place for the dialogue on the others.”
Abdul Salam added that “Riyadh is no longer an impartial actor in the current crisis in Yemen, yet it supports the Takfiri groups, al-Qaeda, and the criminal operatives. It also adopts a severe stance regarding the Yemeni Revolution”.
In fact, it is believed in Yemen that the positions adopted by Saudi Arabia, whether directly or on behalf of the GCC, come in response to Ansarullah’s explicit positions about the kingdom’s role in complicating the political crisis in Yemen. The positions of Sayyed Abdulmalik al-Houthi in terms of the Saudi role in repeating the Libyan model in Yemen or in supporting the Takfiri groups, as well as when he proposes alternative solutions, are still having echoes in the royal palaces. The Saudis did not yet forget the footages of the recent visits of Yemeni delegations that roamed Moscow, the Islamic Republic of Iran and Egypt.
The Yemenis have breached a red line that has been enshrined by Saudi Arabia for long. Therefore, what should be done today is to take them back to the house of obedience. That is how Ansarullah justifies its latest position.
According to Abdul Salam, “the Saudi Arabia is still considering Yemen its subordinate state. That is why it is suffering hysteria today, for it is afraid that Yemen is liberating itself from the Saudi dominance”.
Abdul Salam reiterated his question: “With whom are the other parties going to talk in Riyadh, knowing that all of them adopt the same position!”
Turning a blind eye to the daily onslaught by the Saudi media on the popular committees in Yemen as well as on the movement, Omar, the Saudi writer, stated that those in charge of the affairs of “Riyadh’s dialogue conference” are aware that all the components of the Yemeni society that participated in Sanaa’s talks must be involved in the talks in Riyadh. Any differences with the Kingdom do not rule out the fact that the GCC called for the dialogue”.
“The GCC sent the invitation, and this means that no particular country shall have much more influence during the talks, and that no party shall show bias against other parties,” he said, adding that “Riyadh has been chosen just because it is the headquarters of the GCC”.
Yet, it seems that the Saudi justification does not convince the Yemenis. Adbul Salam believes that the call is pure Saudi one, despite the efforts to depict it as a Gulf collaborative call. He reveals that some Gulf States – such as Oman and Kuwait for example – do not agree today on what is proposed by the “neighboring” Saudi, clarifying that even if the GCC addressed the call, it is not authorized to decide the place of the talks paying no heed to the Yemenis, who are supposed to meet its demand. This is unacceptable”.
According to Abdul Salam, Ansarullah considers that speaking about moving the talks from Sanaa to Riyadh aims only at putting pressures on the course of the dialogue, which is still being hosted by the ‘Movenpick’ halls in Sanaa.
The group also admits that those pressures will be in vain as long as the Yemenis in Sanaa are taking care of their affairs normally, and as long as the war against the extremist groups and al-Qaeda operatives is still in progress. Moreover, it believes that the foreign illegitimate parties in Yemen are the only ones who are being negatively affected by the obstruction of the talks.
Last but not least, the only constant idea in Yemen so far, amid the accelerating variables, is the fact that there will be no joint participation in the so-called dialogue in Riyadh. However, Ansarullah’s spokesman concluded that “the movement will continue its revolutionary action, since it is a national demand. Other parties can go anywhere they want, but Ansarulah will keep going and will never retreat.”